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The Myth of Left and Right

Abstraction: A conceptual process where general rules and concepts are derived from the usage and classification of specific examples, literal signifiers, first principles, or other methods.

As human beings, we understand nothing without the ability to create abstractions. We take our observations and reduce them, abstract them, to a level of simplicity that allows us to believe we understand them. Often, we simplify matters beyond that point where we can grasp them; we simplify them to a point where we can understand them with little effort, without a need to perform mental work to deal with the nuances of the concepts we’re reducing. Maybe we’re mentally lazy or in a hurry. Perhaps we don’t have the cranial horsepower to deal with the subtleties of the concepts so we have no choice but to oversimplify them.

Unfortunately, when we oversimply something, our understanding ignites a conflict that bodes ill for ourselves and those around us. Here are some examples rampant in today’s world of oversimplifications that yield unnecessary discord and suffering: Republican versus Democrat, Black versus White, Liberal versus Conservative, Christian versus [Muslim, Jew, Hindu, non-believer], Blue Collar versus White Collar, Red versus Blue, Male versus Female, Straight versus LGBTQ. The list goes on seemingly forever. However, for the purposes of this discourse, I’ll claim one of the most odious and diabolical oversimplifications of our time is “Left versus Right”.

To someone sitting on the far right, everyone with even a slightly different view sits to the left. The observer seated on the far left sees only like-minded allies and those sitting to the right. If the world were truly that simple, wouldn’t life be grand?

Some people take their abstractions to a slightly higher level. There are “fiscal conservatives” who are “social liberals”, but it’s still a fairly simple abstraction. You can have “Biblical literalists” versus those who believe the Bible is the “inspired word of God”. There are even some who believe the Bible is a complete work of fantasy and fiction, but may serve as an enlightened set of guidelines by which to live. Regardless of the field, abstractions are necessary.

The “Bell Curve” comes into play here. (I was going to refer to it by its more mathematically correct term, “normal distribution”, but given the context of the discussion, “normal” just doesn’t seem to be the best choice of words.) Given most issues where abstraction is required, it’s not unreasonable to assume those on one side or the other fall into a bell curve distribution. For example, in the case of “left versus right”, most people fall in the middle. The further out toward the extremes, the fewer the number of adherents. Also, to the person on the extreme right of a position, those on the left, even the moderate left, seem that much more extreme in comparison.

So why is that a problem? Because in today’s America, those who disagree with you are cast as villains. Watch Fox News and you’ll get the message. Listen to Donald Trump; nearly everyone who disagrees with him is an un-American villain.

Donald Trump, like Joseph Goebbels before him, knows how to identify and define those who tend to over-abstract their world views. He views those people as suckers and takes full advantage of their oversimplified views of life. Even he knows the views of his marks don’t explain the world as it really is, at least not in its totality, and he preys upon their vulnerabilities that result from their simplified models. He reinforces their self-images as “patriots” who are not respected by their government, lied to by the “fake news”, robbed by the actions of minorities, immigrants, and far-left liberals. He fans the flames of hate rather than attempting to build bridges of understanding. Why expand the worldviews of a group of people that can serve as his sabre in his battle to control the world. He calls them his “base” and they proudly and defiantly profess their faith in him because he’s the only one paying attention to them. In their minds, he’s the only one that cares about them. This has happened before and it didn’t end well.

Here’s the rub, when you fall victim to a Goebbels like manipulator, you too are prone to viewing someone who disagrees with you as a villain that disagrees with you on every issue. The other day, I received an email from the Trump campaign that was typical of the hundreds of emails they continuously send me. Here is the exact verbiage from that email.

We’ll get right to the point – Democrats HATE America.
 

They’re attacking President Trump for wanting to celebrate Independence Day at Mount Rushmore – an ICONIC monument that features George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln – as a symbol of white supremacy.

Can you believe it? They truly hate EVERYTHING our great Nation stands for.

They’re trying to scare the American People into voting for their washed-up candidate by spewing irresponsible rhetoric about OUR President and America’s heritage. We can’t stand for their BLATANT LIES any longer and neither should YOU.

With a pathetically weak abstraction, suddenly all Democrats HATE America. Take a step back and think about that one. Mr. Trump claims all Democrats hate America. Further on, he suggests Democrats are “spewing” blatant lies, in other words, a man whose assaults on veracity are the stuff of legend is proclaiming that if you’re a Democrat, you are a liar and you hate your country.

Who could possibly find this type of rhetoric acceptable and believable? Only those with world views defined with incredibly simplistic abstraction. All too often, that descriptor fits “the base” far too well.

Let’s take a look at another example where a seemingly intelligent individual falls prey to such rank manipulation. I recently glanced at an email that was sent with the best of intentions by a fairly close relative. In it, he said:

As much as I dislike Trump, my other huge concern right now is I’m scared of the Democratic far left.  I don’t see many Democratic leaders that seem to care about the rioting, vandalism, looting, etc.  They seem to be ok with defunding the police, which I understand is probably really trying to get changes in how we deal with mental illness, etc.  But still, they won’t stand up and try to get people to do it lawfully…they seem to be gloating in all the rioting and looting, as if we deserve it.  And then there’s the tearing down of statues of everyone who wasn’t totally perfect in every single detail of their lives.

The abstraction of “left versus right” is so apparent in the message as to make bells ring. It is immediately apparent which side of the political divide this person falls. He’s clearly on the “conservative right” side of the bell curve. He is scared by the “Democratic far left”. He has fallen victim to his own abstraction of Democrats. Who or what is the “Democratic far left”? Is it Bernie Sanders? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Pelosi? Is it made up of anyone and everyone who believes the government should play a bigger role in today’s society than it did 200 years ago? However it may be defined, what makes him conclude they – individually or collectively – don’t care about the rioting, vandalism, and looting? The only way to reach that conclusion is to create the abstraction and fill in the names. It’s all on the “far Democratic left”.

He accuses “them” of not standing up and try to get people to do it lawfully. Never mind that the injustices have been ongoing for hundreds of years. It seems pretty certain that doing it “lawfully” hasn’t worked out really well.

And while we’re at it, let’s dispose of another fallacy born of a flawed abstraction. The “protesters” are, with very few exceptions, NOT the rioters, looters, and vandals. But from an oversimplification spawned by those sitting in the right-field bleachers, they’re all lumped into the same class. The “protesters” want peaceful, but meaningful change. The rioters and looters want Nike sneakers.

The “far left Democrats” are also accused of wanting to tear down the statues of everyone who wasn’t totally perfect in every single detail of their lives. How does he know it’s only the far-left Democrats? Can’t a reasonable and thoughtful far-right Republican believe it’s appropriate to remove a symbol of a military person that participated in a violent rebellion against our nation, that was responsible for the deaths of many of our countrymen, and fought to keep millions of blacks as chattel property in chains? If it’s become a symbol of white supremacy, is it not inappropriate to leave it in place? For most Americans, (remember the bell curve), there is no need or desire to remove all representations of our ancestors that were anything less than perfect. Traitors to the nation, yes. But imperfect people, no. Not even those on the far-left (wherever that might be) generally support such bizarre actions.

So far, most of my talk has been directed at those sitting on the right, however, it could all just as easily be directed toward the left. Republicans are generally grouped via abstraction as the “right-wing”. With Trump’s minions running loose, Republicans have increasingly been abstracted by the left as being gluttonous, loud mouthed, dishonest, self-serving, ignoramuses. That is clearly another error in abstraction.

There are a great many Republicans that are highly intelligent, honest people with absolute integrity. These individuals have fundamental differences in political and/or economic philosophy and/or social issues and values with members of the “other side”, but they are still rational, well intentioned, and honorable members of society. Yet, via faulty abstractions, they tend to be grouped together with Trump’s definition of Republicans. For those on the left that can’t differentiate Trump’s Republicans from rational Republicans, their error is just as egregious as those on the right who claim all Democrats lie, hate America, want open borders, and fly the flag with the hammer and sickle. The fact of the matter is that an increasingly large number of sentient Republicans are working hard through groups like The Lincoln Project to distance themselves from the mob, a.k.a., the base. Republicans are moving in droves to defeat Trump in the upcoming election, proof that honesty and civility have not gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Some on the left live under the old impression that the commies are coming and that the party has gone too far left. Others believe the old union loyal Democrats have fallen prey to the right-wing bigots; they think the party should move far more toward the Social-Democrats of Europe and it can’t happen too soon.

Back to the bell curve. Just because you believe the border wall is an outrageously ridiculous expenditure of your tax dollars with twenty negative effects for every one benefit doesn’t mean you can’t support intelligent welfare reform. Are you a left-wing or right-wing person?  Just because you believe fiscal responsibility calls for budgetary restraint doesn’t mean you can’t support budget-busting spending during a global pandemic in order to prevent a complete collapse of society. Are you right or are you left? Just because you’re frustrated by government excesses and want the “swamp drained” doesn’t mean you want knowledgeable and efficient bureaucrats replaced with self-serving plunderers. Are you leaning left or right?

It serves no worthwhile purpose to characterize some abstract group of diverse individuals that may or may not agree with you on some or all issues of consequence. To move forward constructively, open your eyes and ears, drop the stereotypes of left versus right, kiss Joseph Goebbels and for that matter, his self-proclaimed successor, Mr. Trump, good-bye, and run with some variation on this abstraction:

We’re all Americans who are the recipients and guardians of a great country built with the blood, sweat, and tears of our progenitors. Let’s not kill it with gross over-simplifications and divisions that serve no valid purpose. We can’t go back in time, but we can be sensitive to our strengths and weaknesses, our history – all of it – and we can endeavor to strengthen what we’ve done right and correct what we’ve done wrong. If you truly want to make America great again, take it back to the time when people on both sides of the aisle talked to each other with respect and an erstwhile desire to do that which was right. Accept that solely because someone disagrees with you, he isn’t necessary the devil incarnate.

Democrats don’t hate America. Republicans don’t hate America. We’re all on the same ship sailing into the dark night. The dance band is playing and I hear there’s some ice in the water. Our hope rests upon our willingness and ability to work together. Perhaps it’s time we worked on our listening skills as much as we’ve honed our talents to spew hate and vitriol at those we’re told are our opponents, our villains. Sure enough, it’s probably a good idea to make American great again, especially in view of the fact that there really is no left or right. There’s only me and you.

Arizona Prop 127 and the Dentist

Amending the Arizona Constitution to Require Electricity Providers to Generate at Least 50% of their Annual Sales of Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources.

Despite my cynicism 640-02771702and shaky belief in our experiment in American democracy, I still take my responsibility of voting seriously. I truly don’t believe my voice is heard or that my vote amounts to a hill of beans, but I’m programmed to believe that if I don’t participate, I haven’t earned the right to enjoy the occasional benefits of freedom bestowed upon all of us. I guess it’s similar to the old exchange where I’m asked, “Do you believe in free will?”

My response … “Of course, what choice do I have?”

With this said, I diligently do my homework on the ballot issues upon which I’m allowed to vote. In an effort to learn how I felt about the matter of Prop 127, I have contacted representatives of organizations espousing both sides of the matter. I have found it difficult to get straight answers from either side, especially the “Vote No” people.

One information resource available to me is called “NextDoor.com”, a pseudo-social network composed of neighbors – thousands of them – in the area of Scottsdale in which I live. One neighbor began a thread on the site encouraging neighbors to oppose the proposition. I muddled through the dozens of responses, some caustic and snarky, some myopic, some humorous and some more thought provoking than others. Here are a couple of the take-aways from my efforts.

  • Many people drink the cool-aid. The “Vote No” contingent is largely fed by the big utility companies, APS in particular. Their motives seem to be one-percent altruism (possibly misguided) and ninety-nine-percent profit motive. I don’t believe for an instant that profit is necessarily bad, but when it comes by selling your soul to the Devil or peddling your daughter on the streets to the highest bidders, the profit-motive may run into a few moral barriers.

APS may not be taking the moral high road on this matter. They make no claims as foolish as to suggest renewable energy in of itself is bad. They just say your monthly electric bill will increase. Those supporting Prop 127 make the argument that utility bills will go down. In both cases, there seems to be some sleight-of-hand being employed to make the cases. Bills probably wouldn’t go up as much as APS claims and they probably wouldn’t go down as much as NRDC claims.

Either way, the discussion of utility rate hikes seems to have an air of red herring. If APS insists on presenting blatantly false, fear mongering arguments about cost increases, this seems to beg the question “Why is APS so vehemently opposed to Prop 127?” I can guarantee you that the president of APS doesn’t go to bed each night with a prayer about keeping my personal utility bills as low as possible. He may pray that his income continues to grow without bound. I’ve got a whole file of cancelled checks that pretty much proves he doesn’t give a damn about my personal budget.

As an experienced engineer, I will assume that APS opposes Prop 127 for two principal reasons, taxes and control. I suspect that investing in significant new infrastructure in the form of solar and/or wind generation equipment is a “capital expense” and that those expenditures must be depreciated over an extended time period. If they could be immediately “expensed”, the Corporation Commission would no doubt do what it normally does and allow them to roll the costs into the utility rates immediately. If the costs are to be depreciated over time, APS would have to wait to fleece the consumers longer. I’m sure the picture is a bit more complicated than presented here, but you get the gist of it.

It should strike you as contemptable that APS can spend millions promoting and peddling the anti-127 rhetoric and immediately force you to pay for it via such “expenses” being rolled into your monthly utility bill, but they fight investing in a cleaner environment because that can’t take those dollars out of your pocket by the handful; they still get them, they have to grab them a few dollars at a time.

The other issue is “control”. A constitutional requirement for a certain energy mix takes a little bit of the choice from them. Heaven forbid they don’t retain complete, unbridled control of their world.

So some people drink the cool-aid like it’s free. They listen to what APS says and take it as the gospel. After all, it must be true because many of those who support Prop 127 are tree-huggers or liberals or environmentalists or even Democrats. Some have even gone over the edge and drive a Prius. My God! What further proof do you need that APS is standing on the right side the fence? Drink up. It beats the hell out of thinking it through.

  • Many, if not most people, don’t look at the big picture even if it’s held right in front of their faces. I’m stunned at the number of people who look at the issue solely from the standpoint of the amount they believe their utility bills will increase. Let’s take the improbable worst case scenario as presented by APS and assume your monthly bill will increase $100 per month. There is more, much, much more to the picture. If you’re content with viewing a grossly over-simplified picture, here’s a quick way to not only save the $100 per month, but actually cut your bill out altogether – don’t pay your bill. There you go; how much better can you do than that? But they’ll cut off my electricity you say. Well of course they will, but that’ll be a month or two down the road. We can deal with that problem when it comes along.

By viewing the Prop 127 question as nothing more or less than an increase or decrease in your monthly electric bill, that’s precisely what you’re doing. You’re ignoring myriad other costs that you will have to pay, just not necessarily immediately. These costs are very real and the bill will be coming due. You can try not paying the bill, but you’d be better off letting APS turn off your power. If worse comes to worse, you can at least buy batteries and a flashlight. Escape from the other expenses that so many people ignore isn’t nearly so simple.

Fact: Health care costs increase with increased burning of fossil fuels. Fact: Even if you don’t personally end up with asthma or heart disease of any one of the countless other maladies, you’re still paying the bill. When some American citizen who can’t afford health insurance ends up in the hospital, guess who’s paying the bill. You are.  Fact: reducing fossil fuel consumption results in a cleaner environment. When air and water is polluted, everyone suffers as the economy suffers. The cost of clean-up has to be borne by someone. Take a look in the mirror if you’d like to see who gets that bill.

There are countless other expenses that legitimately need to be taken into account when looking at Prop 127. Life would surely be grand if it was about nothing more than your utility bill, but it’s not. Some of the expenses may have differing time horizons, but they WILL be paid. If you consider yourself fortunate in that maybe, just maybe, the bills won’t come due in your short lifetime, I’m sure your children and grandchildren will think highly of you for having the wisdom, vision and love to care about their future quality of life.

  • The power of rationalization is the irresistible force. Many of the anti-127 voices put forth the “argument” that Prop 127 won’t solve the problems of pollution, global climate change, etc. They’re absolutely correct. In truth, the overall impact may be miniscule in comparison to the overall challenge at hand.

However, it can’t be argued that one small, short step in the direction of a goal isn’t in fact far better than no step at all. If we do nothing at all, nothing will be done. In fact, it strikes me as sort like my view on casting my vote. I don’t really believe my voice is of any consequence, but if I don’t vote, I have no voice at all.

Prop 127 is much like going to the dentist. I have a legitimate phobia with dentists and all their tools of torture. Sometimes I feel like the choice of seeking dental care should only come when the pain is so excruciating as to overwhelm my fears. But with a little common sense, I come to the realization that line of reasoning is childish and foolish. If I keep putting it off, the pain would become intolerable and the cost of mitigation would become huge. How long do we want to suffer before we act? How much suffering can we endure tomorrow for a few fleeting moments of pleasure today?

Hey, it worked for Emperor Nero. Do you ever wonder what tune he was playing when Rome finally caught fire? Thanks to NextDoor.com, I’m voting Yes on Prop 127.

How Forrest Gump Would View the Tax Plan

GumpI’ve taken a number of college level economics classes. I found them enlightening and enjoyed them a great deal. However, I don’t pretend to be an economist. Admittedly, I sometimes get a somewhat inflated opinion of my understanding of economics when I compare myself to others who know little of the subject, but this isn’t a piece to be focused on the current resident in the White House.

Thirty-five years ago, I founded a computer software company. I’m proud to say that over the years, it grew to become a very successful enterprise. As you might imagine, I used my knowledge of mathematics, engineering, business and … economics on the road to success. As I look back on those years, I find that much of the current “tax plan” proposed by Trump’s minions doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Aside from the fact that the lion’s share of the tax benefits go to the rich, there are other red flags that amount to nothing less than sleight of hand intended to appeal to and fool the gullible.

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It’s Time for Lee to Surrender Again

HistoriansRobert E Lee say Robert E. Lee was humble and gracious in his act of surrender at Appomattox in 1865. It’s time he and his worshipers do it again. Bow out and be gone. As did Grant, I’ll let it pass without harboring feelings of vengefulness. I promise I won’t carry a grudge. Quite the contrary, I continue to carry the same respect for those parts of reality that command respect. After all, many of my ancestors fought for and with Lee on the battlefields of Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, and many others.

As an avid student of history, the era of the Civil War has long been one of my burning passions. As a child, I was regaled with stories of my family’s participation in the conflagration that was the American Civil War. Many amongst my clan rooted in the hills of southeastern Tennessee, northern Georgia and western North Carolina referred to it as the War of Secession. Some still do. Many of my progenitors served in the 7th Tennessee Infantry and fought gallantly under Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson. I have long been intrigued researching my family’s involvement. Most of the stories can be found in the history books or other records buried in the archives. Some are available to me only because they’ve been passed down verbally from generation to generation.

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Burn Baby, Burn

I remember it as if it was yesterday. The acrid smell of smoke wafted through air. The hot and humid night made sleep all but unreachable. The skyline glowed with the orange light of burning buildings. Yet, I laid there with eyes closed hoping to slip through the gates of the dream state. But it was difficult with the distant sound of machine gun fire, the rumble of tanks and armored vehicles less than a quarter mile distant. The 82nd and 101st Airborne Division’s troops had arrived, but the violence was irrepressible. The official death toll was rising, but from a reliable insider, I learned it was much higher than the public was led to believe. I was living in a war zone and frankly, it wasn’t a lot of fun.

US-RACE RIOTS-DETROIT

Near my home (AFP/Getty Images)

This wasn’t Vietnam. It wasn’t the Middle East. The year was 1967. The city was Detroit. Riots engulfed the city. A police raid on a speak-easy sparked one of the deadliest and destructive riots in the history of the United States. I was a young, married man with an expectant wife. We were afraid that if “the time” came, we’d be unable to get to the hospital. It was an exciting time.

It was a time of turmoil and tumult as our nation was being transformed and awakened. Vietnam, civil rights, a music revolution, the space age, and people were turning on, tuning in, and dropping out. I was already pretty open-minded, even for a twenty year old. But it was hard to understand what’s happening on the inside when you’re looking in from the outside. I had friends in the inner-city. I spent time in the inner-city. But the fact is … I was a young white boy of some privilege cast into a bizarre reality and the best I could do was guess about what I was seeing and hearing.

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Trump’s Trolley Kills Five

trumpyWell, America … you have murdered the trolley workers. Their blood is now on your hands. Let me be clear; a minority of Americans can rest peacefully, albeit, fearfully. They at least tried to pull the lever. They just couldn’t get enough help from their fellow Americans who “voted their consciences” or didn’t vote at all.

Ok, I get the feeling your face is dressed in confusion. “What the hell trolley is he talking about? Who died?” Let me back up and explain.

The “trolley problem” is a well-known thought experiment in the field of ethics. You remember ethics? They used to be common in the halls of government in this country.  In the trolley problem, you are confronted with a serious dilemma.

A trolley car is out of control and careening down the tracks where five workers don’t see or hear it coming. If nothing is done, the five workers will assuredly die. You see this and happen to be standing by a large lever. If you quickly pull the lever, the trolley will be directed onto another track where you see one worker who will unquestionably be killed. Do you pull the lever to save five lives at the expense of one life?

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A Death in the Family

graveNo one’s getting out alive. One of the few constants in the universe is that there is an ultimate end to everything. If we’re to believe all of the philosophical euphemisms surrounding death, we shouldn’t fear it. It comes to all things. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is inescapable. All things are ultimately buried, even if only metaphorically.

When the end comes, whether it be expected or a sudden and shocking event, the process of grieving begins.  People deal with their grief in different ways, some constructive, others not so much. In her landmark book, “On Death and Dying”, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross spoke of what she called the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although she directed her words to those who were dying, the five stages also apply to those forced to grieve the loss of a loved one.

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Making Amerika Great One Swastika at a Time

aunt-beulahBy Aunt Beulah

Aunt Beulah is a former comatose pseudonym who woke from her slumber when the country lobbed a grenade through her nursing home window.

Is it not refreshing to see America and its citizens finally paving The Path to the Moral High Ground? It’s about time we jumped on High Horse and galloped over the Constitution of the United States of America. Just between you and me, I feel the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, not to mention the Declaration of Independence, are pretty lame. After all, the Founding Fathers of this country couldn’t even be bothered to establish a State religion or mention Christianity at all in any of these documents. I’m almost positive that was an oversight, although I can’t be sure as I wasn’t there and there was no Twitter. Perhaps they were sidetracked while separating church from state and couldn’t find their way back to the pew to ask for guidance. Damn Deists. Horrifying Humanists. Sensible Secularists.  What were they thinking by leaving the construal of those documents to the commoners?!

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Haunting Voices from the Holocaust

prisoners_1567234i

Most of my formative years were spent in a working class, Jewish neighborhood in Detroit. I went to a grade school that was overwhelmingly Jewish. I was immersed in the Jewish culture and knew it as my own. I’m a richer and better person for those experiences.

I vividly recall many discussions of the Holocaust. I can still close my eyes and see the number tattooed on the arm of Beverly Hearn’s mother that bore witness to her experience as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. I was aghast to see the pictures of the starving prisoners on their liberation day and of the trenches filled with the emaciated corpses that didn’t live to see the end of the war. We were told to never forget the horrors that had been perpetrated just a few years earlier. “It must be remembered so that it never happens again” we were instructed.

There was a very active group of Nazi war criminal hunters as I approached my adolescence. I still remember the publicity and excitement when, in 1960, Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann was captured in Argentina and taken to Israel to stand trial. He was hanged in 1962, but the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, continued to search for more war criminals. That search has continued well into this century.

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Maybe the Sky IS Falling!

Sky FallingThe advent of the internet is in a league with the development of nuclear weapons. Both changed the world. And hand-in-hand, they may shepherd humanity to its ultimate end. The threat of nuclear holocaust has hung over the human race since the Enola Gay laid waste to Hiroshima seventy years ago. As these weapons spread to ever more parts of the world, the threat only increases.

But the internet? How can it be the atom bomb’s bride and carry the bouquet of humanity’s doom?

As with any marriage, some things are best left unsaid or at least, not spoken until they have been thought through thoroughly. The internet has removed a set of checks-and-balances that has served humanity for eons. The instantaneous communication of the internet acts as the midwife of our doom.

When I was a child, a postage stamp (there was no such thing as email) cost three cents. A letter took about a week to go from Michigan to my cousins in Tennessee. However, for an extra penny, you could buy an “Air Mail” stamp. Your letter actually got to fly on an airplane to get to its destination. It cut delivery time down to about three days, a modern miracle of efficiency.

Today, with the internet and programs like Skype, I can converse with voice and video in real time with friends in Australia for free. Through social networks of all types from Facebook to Twitter, I can share thoughts with literally tens of thousands of people all over the world in an instant. In some respects, that is nothing short of fabulous. But so are a few other things that would quickly bring an end to civilized society, for example, unrestricted sex, free euphoria inducing drugs and x-ray goggles. Too much of a good thing can be quite bad. Unrestricted, instantaneous communication is one of those things. Continue reading

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